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Mimicking tissue growth: towards customised, while-you-wait tissue fabrication

2 December 2008


Professor Robert Brown (UCL Orthopaedics & Musculosk. Science)

Tissue engineering began to stir European public hopes 15 to 20 years ago around the simple idea that culture of tissue-forming cells in shaped, synthetic materials could produce new, functional tissues to replace bodily decay and damage.  The trouble is that despite many repetitions, ‘successes’ towards that dream are few and modest.  This led to a route-map-modification, increasingly dependent on special stem cells, and embryology, where the vision is to persuade such cells to automatically from the tissues we need, as and where they are needed; that is, Regenerative Medicine.    Once scaled up for practical use, this in effect becomes a form of cell/tissue farming. Unfortunately, the dream has a glitch.  As we are not so good at the controls necessary for 3D cell-farming we are now in the biological long grass, reliant on innate cell behaviour rather than predictable engineering processes.  Recent work at UCL may now offer a way back, through bio mimetic engineering of the bulk fabric of tissues, but without cell-dependence.

Page last modified on 02 dec 08 15:53


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